Working at Height Policy

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1 Working at Height Policy (HSP 05) Table of Contents 1. Purpose Scope Policy... 2 Risk assessment... 2 Safe systems of work... 2 Inspections at height... 3 Access... 3 Permanently Installed Safety Access Equipment (PISAE)... 3 Scaffolds... 3 Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs)... 3 Ladders/stepladders... 4 Working platforms... 4 Full prevention/arrest equipment... 4 Fragile roofs/fragile structures... 5 Weather conditions... 5 Information, instruction and training... 6 Employees and contractors responsibility Forms/Instructions Links/Dependencies Appendices... 6 Policy control Approved by Contact/s Professor Les Ebdon CBE DL, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Gary Smith, Head of Health and Safety History/Revision dates January 2012 Audience Internal (Intranet only) X External (Internet) Page 1

2 1. Purpose 1 To ensure that University of Bedfordshire employees and their contractors working at height have the necessary protection measures to prevent them falling and suffering fatal or serious injury. 2. Scope 2 This Policy applies to employees and contractors who may be involved in working at height and includes cleaning, maintenance, demolition, surveys and inspection activities. 3. Policy Risk assessment 3 A risk assessment (A) should be carried out for all activities that involve working at height (note - there is no specified safe height). Simple jobs may not require great detail (a HIPA form HSF 01(b) should initially be considered, more complex tasks need to be assessed in more depth. All work at height is to be considered dangerous and it is essential that the risks are identified before the work starts and that the necessary equipment, appropriate precautions and systems of work are provided and implemented. 4 The main hazards faced when undertaking work at height are: Falls from unprotected edges Falls through gaps or holes Falls through fragile materials and roof lights Falls from ladders / stepladders Accidental dropping of materials / equipment Safe systems of work 5 Whenever working at height is carried out, a method statement/safe system of work should be developed identifying the safe working positions and access routes to and around the work area. In addition they should describe: How falls are prevented How students, staff, members of the public and other workers below will be protected from falling materials What equipment will be required What training is required How health risks are controlled (vertigo / respiratory etc) Who will supervise the work on site and ensure that the risks are effectively controlled Page 2

3 Inspections at height 6 Inspecting at height can have many associated hazards. Ideally, wherever possible the inspection work should be carried out from a safe place, such as an adjacent structure using binoculars or from a mobile access platform, some inspections may be able to be done from below if the structure is exposed. Only as a last resort should an inspection be carried out at height and a safe system of work planned and adopted. 7 Do not go within 2.5 metres of a roof edge which does not have a parapet, edge protection or hand and intermediary rail of the required height. 8 Do not climb on pitched roofs without the necessary training and appropriate equipment. Access 9 There are five main methods of providing safe access to heights; Permanent / fixed equipment (such as staircases, cradles, ladders etc) Independent scaffolds Tower scaffolds (fixed or mobile) Mobile Elevating Work Platform equipment Moveable Ladders / stepladders Permanently Installed Safety Access Equipment (PISAE) 10 Suspended cradles often provided for cleaning/maintenance should only be used when there are two persons present. They will be subject to regular testing (as per PUWER and LOLER Regulations) and the current certificate should always be checked before use. Users must receive specific training in their use. 11 Fixed vertical ladders, sometimes called cat or ships ladders, should have round rungs fixed to the outside of their structures or be enclosed in maintenance shafts, to minimise the likelihood of a fall. Footwear with a well defined heel should be worn to ensure the foot does not slip off the rungs. Scaffolds 12 Scaffolds (fixed or mobile) provide safe access to height but they must be erected by a competent person (C) and used correctly and fully in accordance with manufacturers instructions. All employees must ensure that scaffolding is safe and secure before they begin work, in line with a safe system of work and risk assessment. 13 Scaffolding is required to be inspected regularly and the certificate should be checked prior to its use. 14 Mobile scaffold towers may require additional bracing struts depending on their height. The tower should not be ridden on whilst it is being moved into location. It is preferable to use a scaffold tag or similar system to ensure it has been checked correctly before use. Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs) Page 3

4 15 There is a wide range of mobile access equipment such as hydraulic lifters, scissor lifts etc. which avoids most the risks associated with the erection and use of scaffolding. For short duration work, inspection or maintenance jobs, mobile equipment can often be the best option. However factors such as the ground conditions and the manufacturer s recommendation of the maximum wind speed that the equipment can be safely operated in, must always be considered. All operators of mobile elevated work platforms must receive the appropriate training before use. Ladders/stepladders 16 Using ladders to gain access to height may not always be appropriate. Workers should consider the length of the ladder needed, very long ladders are heavy to handle and the fact that employees using a ladder need to have both hands free when climbing it, making carrying materials or tools very difficult. If ladders are used then they must be the correct type / class for the job, they must be on level and solid ground, effectively secured to prevent movement and be kept in good condition. The use of a ladder tag or similar system is recommended for pre-use inspection, and detailed visual inspections should be undertaken by a competent person in accordance with the manufacturer s instructions. Ladders / stepladders should only be used by competent persons. 17 Ladders should only be used when the use of other, safer work equipment such as scaffolding - is not justified due to the low risk of accidents and because the ladder will only be used for a short period of time in line with a safe system of work. 18 Work should never be done off the top step of a ladder. Either a taller ladder should be provided or, preferably, a scaffold tower. When using a ladder to access another level, it must extend at least one metre above the stepping off point. 19 When using leaning ladders and step ladders the following safety precautions should be adopted; Short duration work (maximum 30 minutes) Light work (up to 10 kg) Ladder angle should be 75o (1 unit out for every four units up) Always grip the ladder when climbing Do not overreach- make sure your stomach area stays within the stiles and keep both feet on the same rung or step throughout the task Do not work off the top thee rungs- this provides a handhold Try to maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times Secure the top of the ladder to an appropriate anchor point Use a second person to foot the ladder 20 Always use non conductive ladders / stepladders for any electrical work. Working platforms 21 Workers carrying out the task must be provided with a safe place of work. This should be a working platform with physical safeguards such as toe boards and guardrails at the required height. The surface should be strong enough to support the weight of both the person, and work equipment / materials being used, and be level. Full prevention/arrest equipment Page 4

5 22 Providing adequate platforms and edge protection may not always be possible or reasonably practicable. If so, fall prevention systems may be used, these will include body harnesses being attached to a safe anchorage point (fixed or otherwise), safety nets or harnesses may also be required. Fall prevention (preferred option) normally requires a shorter length attaching lanyard, which will not physically allow a person to reach the hazardous edge, whereas fall arrest involves a lanyard of suitable length which prevents a person from reaching the ground once they have fallen over the edge. If fall arrest is used, a suitable emergency plan must be included in the written risk assessment, for speedy recovery of the person being suspended above ground level. 23 If nets are used, they need to be properly installed by competent riggers as close as possible below the work area involved to minimise the distance fallen. 24 When harnesses are used, they need to be securely attached to a suitable and sufficient strong anchorage point (i.e. periodically inspected and tested as per LOLER Regulations requirements) and they are always worn where required. Employees must not attempt to use a harness or any other associated item of personal protective equipment unless they have been properly trained. 25 Fall prevention / arrest equipment does not mean that proper working platforms and edge protection can be ignored, as the first priority is to stop people falling in the first instance. Fragile roofs/fragile structures 26 NO ROOF WORK IS PERMITTED BY ANY PERSONS WITHOUT A VALID WORK PERMIT. 27 Fragile roofs should only be accessed by persons with the correct equipment and training. 28 If there is any doubt, it should be assumed that the roof is fragile. If possible, all work on the roof should be arranged so that is does not take place on or near fragile materials. However, if this is unavoidable then all fragile materials must be clearly identified and a safe means of access and safe working platform provided. Where a walkway is provided over a fragile expanse of roof, it may still be necessary to wear a tether line (lanyard) and harness as well. If a Latchway or similar system is installed, the inspection certificate should be checked before use. 29 It must also be remembered that some roof coverings can give a false sense of security to those who are walking on them and although they may be able to support an evenly distributed weight, they may not hold a concentrated load such as a person walking or falling. 30 Particular care should be taken when working near asbestos (or suspected asbestos - check the Asbestos Register held by Facilities & Estates Dept. prior to any works involving asbestos containing materials) and fibre cement sheeting which are liable to shatter without warning under a person s weight and may be more brittle with age. Weather conditions 31 Adverse or violent weather conditions can significantly increase the risks when working at height. Rain, snow, frost and ice can all make platforms and ladders very Page 5

6 slippery and when there are adverse weather conditions, an inspection and assessment of the risk should be carried out to check if it is safe to work. 32 Wind speed is also a major factor to consider when working at height, as a sudden gust of wind can easily cause a worker to lose their balance. Do not go on the roof without a safety line (lanyard) and safety harness if the wind speed is estimated to exceed 25 mph. 33 Strong sunlight can also be hazardous as it can cause glare and temporary loss of vision and hence should be considered. Information, instruction and training 34 Employees working at height should receive appropriate health and safety information, instruction and training, in particular, the findings or preparing of risk assessments, safe systems of work and any PPE requirements. Employees and contractors responsibility 35 Employees and contractors must cooperate with the University and ensure that they work in a safe manner, follow their training and safe systems of work and use the equipment provided to ensure that The University s legal and moral obligations are fulfilled. 4. Forms/Instructions (A) General Risk Assessment Form (HSF 01(a)) and HIPA Form (HSF 01(b)) 5. Links/Dependencies This policy should be read and its use considered with reference to: (B) Personal Protective Equipment Policy (HSP 27) (currently awaiting review) (C) Training and Competence Policy (HSP 02) 6. Appendices None Page 6

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